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The "jury", who were Nicholas O'Leary and infosthetics, have chosen the winner of the paper-based visualization competition. First of all, a great thank you for all those who have submitted their entries! It is amazing to see the amount of creativity, time and effort has been put into each single submission.

Petals [charlenelam.com] by Charlene Lam merged the qualities of beauty, originality, and usability the best. As an independent object, it looks clean and sophisticated. The curves give it a real organic feel whilst the relation between daylight hours is clear. It is also definitely something that can be picked up and examined for a closer look. The price, the book Tactile: High Touch Visuals will be on its way soon.

Check out all the other entries below. Let us know what you think about the entries, and having competitions on infosthetics in general.

Still wanted: sponsors for future competitions!


Summer Map Book by Britta Gustafson.
Folded and cut watercolor paper (to form a tetra-tetra flexagon), watercolor paint, gel ink pen.
This is a handmade map-based visualization of my travels during three summers, with familiar areas painted darker and labeled in more detail than unfamiliar areas. It is both flat and three-dimensional, since it opens three times to zoom from (1) a view of California, including my non-summer school and home, to (2) a view of the Bay Area with my summer work and home, to (3) a view of San Francisco, my summer city, to (4) a view of the Mission and Castro, my home neighborhoods during two of the past three summers. More information here
Less of a paper visualisation, but notable for its beautiful illustration. Blurring the map to highlight only the pieces that are relevant is a great concept, and uses the quality of a "tangible" interface.

Where I spent 2008 by Roberto Christen.
Paper and glue.
The four paper cuboids placed on the dark brown paper platform together represent all 365 days of the year 2008.
The volume of each cuboid is equal to the number of days I spent in different cities during that year. The volume of the white cuboid (top) represents all days spent in Umea, Sweden; tan (right) is Munich, Germany; red (middle) is New York City, US; gold (bottom) represents all other cities combined.
Chosen colours and shapes carry some symbolism, as does the visualization method - an abstract urban grid as a metaphor for place.
As with gmapTZ, visualising Time in a physical manner is open to lots of different interpretations. The use of volume in this piece helps to instantly correlate the relative time between each city. Its execution looks nice.

Pocket Pie Chart by Saša Kuhar.
Ever needed a pie chart and didn't have one?
Well, here's a "Pocket pie chart", which you can use in every day life wherever you go. If you want to get smart with your friends you can now always visualize any kind of pie chart suitable data ;)
And since the decks are removable, they can be easily replaced or added for the ones that suit the data better, so it keeps your creativity going.
You can for instance make a personal "Pocket keep-smiling pie chart" where you measure your smiles and bad words in relation to time, thus making you a nicer person :)
A portable pie chart, fully customizable. Marvellous. Anything that makes you a 'nicer person' is a good thing.

My iPhone Usage by CIVICO13.
A cardboard tube, 4 coloured sheets of paper, some glue.
Bar graph illustrating the usage of my iPhone photos, apps, mp3 and other stuff related to the length of a cardbord tube.
A simple, yet effective, visualisation of a stacked bar graph. Would be nice to have it "car antenna"-wise grow and shrink.

Countries Celebrating Carnival Around the World by CIVICO13.
Some Confetti.
3D chart made with pile of confetti, illustrating the relationship between how many countries all around the world celebrate Carnival compared to countries who don't.
Good use of relevant material for the subject matter. Not as portable as some of the others :)

Petals by Charlene Lam
I currently live in Umeå, a city at latitude 63° 50′ N in northern Sweden. Our winter days are short and summer days are long. Using the actual and predicted lengths of daylight for the first of each month in 2009, I created a visualization with 12 "petals". The outer loop of each petal represents the 24 hours in the day; the inner loop is the length of daylight, ranging from 4h 33m on January 1 to 20h 34m on July 1. The simple lines suggest the passing of time, as well as the promise of spring to come.
More photos and info here.
See comments in the main post above. Be sure to check out the webpage as well.

Big Numbers by Eddie Elliott.
An 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper rests in a soccer field 72 yards by 110 yards.
Say the field represents the $34-billion the US automakers requested in 2008. The sheet of paper stands for $320,644. Suppose the field is the $827-billion stimulus bill Congress is considering. The sheet represents $7,533,329. If the soccer field is the US population of approximately 305 million, the sheet represents 2,876 people. Does the sheet cover 2,876 blades of grass?
Convincing example of lateral thinking. Effective visualisation of the data, albeit not entirely made of paper.

Canadian Federal Departments Travel Expenses by Datalicious.ca
The Canadian Federal Departments Travel Expenses visualization represents each department's expenditures as a vertical bar. The deviation from the guidelines is represented as a green or red tip. Each department is laid on a grid in order of ascending size and ascending deviation from guidelines.
This visualization uses paper as a support for aggregating different layers of information into one single visualization. Each edge of the square represents a different aspect of
the dataset. By changing his perspective, the viewer can actually change his perspective on the data.
We believe that interactivity is essential to understanding data. The use of paper allowed us to "invert" interactivity. While we have to simulate interactivity in computer programs, the use of paper allows a natural interaction, as one can touch, turn around, study and eventually appropriate the data. Ironically, the inert paper becomes more interactive than a complex computer visualization.
Good arrangement of a complex set of data. Spectacular presentation. Bit unclear the advantage of using paper.

gmapTZ by Marc Pfister.
As a map maker, I wanted to use paper to extend a map into a new dimension. I thought it might be interesting to visualize time over a multimodal trip. You can see the elapsed time of a bus segment and walking segment. Slower transportation nodes have a steeper line, since the line represents time divided by distance (the inverse of
velocity). This is a mockup built with Google Maps and Adobe Illustrator, but it would be possible to generate the time visualization in software using the OpenStreetMap road base, Graphserver routing engine, Mapnik renderer and ReportLab PDF library.
This is an interesting visualization overlaying time on the map. A physical translation of the techniques used at Bio Mapping with lots of potential.

Americans Killed in Wars by Xaquin Gonzalez.
Each little cutout of the soldier -about two inches tall- is the number of American soldiers killed in the Iraq War (from left to right): 27 green ones for WWI, 98 yellow ones for WWII, 9 blue for Korea, 14 orange for Vietnam and 1 salmon for Iraq.
Simple, seemingly quite labor-intensive, yet effective.

Recycling Works by Theo Seemann.
In germany they began to think about recycling of paper in the mid 70s and you can say, that it became part of our everyday life. My visualization shows the proportions between recycled paper and disposed paper in germany in 2007. I cutted small squares out of grey recycled paper to show the amount of recycled paper in germany, 2007.
and i cutted white squares out of non-recycled paper to show the amount of disposed paper in germany, 2007. Every little cube stands for 1000 tons of paper. the grey ones were recycled, the white ones had to be disposed and reproduced.
Very nice font-work with the paper-pixels. Love the amount of effort put into it.

Hourglass by 晓云 何 / Ellen.
The project is about "my three working weeks for taking buses". I want to display how long time I spent on taking each bus. I used different coloured triangles to display different buses, and I had made the triangle to display the the sand in the hourglass. Some triangles are bigger and higher than others which corresponds to the time I spend on taking bus (i.e. more than others).
Good use of color, size and space. Has a clear poetic quality.

GDP per Year by Dongxu Li.
The column chart which I did consist of three parts, a) the base paper; b) the bracket (one piece of folded paper); c) the main column chart (background paper and the five columns). I made this with the cutting, folding, gluing and rolling up ways. The columns to express some real data , such as the sales figures per month, GDP per year.
Simple arrangement of a well known format. Looks daunting and intriguing at the same time.

Wine Production by David Reinhold.
Paper, glue, and some ink.
My entry is a data visualization comparing wine production of three different countries (France, Italy, and USA). The thing the vines are climbing on is divided into years, and the number of grapes between each of the bars with the year represents how many tons of wine were produced in that year. The grapes above the date are the ones relevant to the date. (e.g. the grapes on the very top represent how much wine was produced in 2005). Each grape represents 100,000 tons of wine. The information I used is real and came from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Because I resized the image to make it fit the criteria you may not be able to read what written on the bottles. What's written is, (in order from left to right) "Wine produce of France" "Wine produce of USA" "Wine produce of Italy".
Nice visualisation using a design relevant to the data. Accomplished with lots of care and sophistication.

Peace Paper Vis by Uta Hinrichs.
This paper visualization shows the relation between the wealth of a country (gross domestic product per capita; GDP) and its peacefulness (global peace index; GPI). Countries (140 in total) are represented by cylinders. The cylinder's height represents the GPI score (the shorter, the more peaceful); its area shows the GDP (the more area, the higher the GDP). The cylinder's position is based on the country's geographical location. The geographic allocation of peace and money becomes visible. Cylinders tend to be wide and short or narrow and long - peacefulness seems to be a matter of wealth.
More information can be found here.
Clever use of height and space to visualise two different sets of data. A good example of transforming an ineffective 3D technique into something useful and beautiful when translated in physical reality. Love the care put into adding a small text label in each tube.


Loved the idea and sadly was unable to get my act together in time. But well done everyone, some great submissions! A justified winner too.

Fri 13 Feb 2009 at 10:03 PM

wow! I'm so surprised -- and delighted! This was a fun assignment. Yes, to more competitions. Some great submissions, indeed! Ellen, I love the color and concept of yours.

Fri 13 Feb 2009 at 10:51 PM

Thanks for organizing the context. In a world where information is increasingly digital, it is refreshing to see representations which are hand-made, not generated.
some entries required a tremendous amount of work, some were more like hacks. I'm happy with the winner's choice, it's one of the couple which could not have been made without paper.

Fri 13 Feb 2009 at 11:20 PM

"Americans Killed in Wars by Xaquin Gonzalez."
uhm... I'm glad there's a legend ;)

Anyway, you might want to mention that the American Civil War was the deadliest war in American history, causing 620000 soldier deaths and an undetermined number of civilian casualties (wiki) so at least another approx. 150 tiny americans to cut...

Fri 13 Feb 2009 at 11:48 PM
Bernhard H.

The Petals are very cute but I very much doubt that the data mapping is correct. From the link I learned that January, the 1'o'clock petal represents 4 hours and 33 min daylight or a ratio of rougly 1:5 but the areas(or volumes) are more like 1:20, a pretty big lie factor, not even Umeå is that dark.
Also the stems of the petals seems unnecessary. It just adds
some very confusing shapes that convey no data.

Sat 14 Feb 2009 at 12:55 AM
Jörgen Abrahamsson

How weird - after I sent in my map entry I was re-reading Martin Gardner's "2nd Scientific American Book of Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions" and came upon the chapter about flexagons and thought "huh, that could probably make for a cool entry" but having already entered I didn't give it further thought. And then few days later, there one is, and it's a map!

Sat 14 Feb 2009 at 3:39 AM
Marc Pfister

i missed out on the competition, but there are some amazing entries here, everyone should be proud of their work.

hoping for a new competition soon :)

Sat 14 Feb 2009 at 4:08 AM

Some interesting points, Jörgen. I understand your confusion, but the volume/area is not actually the part that contains the data -- it is the length of the paper strips that form the loops. The white thread where the loops are joined is the start/end point. Each outer loop is 24 cm from start to end point, representing 24 hours. The inner loop for the 1'o clock petal is a little over 4.5 cm, representing the 4h 33m. The concept was to use these strips of varying length, to see what shapes were formed. It's a valid critique though, not because of the, er, "lie"s but because I can definitely see how it could be read as area = ratio of daylight.

Sat 14 Feb 2009 at 6:25 AM
Charlene Lam

Wow... I think I like David's, but mainly because I enjoy fine wine and statistics.

Sun 15 Feb 2009 at 8:54 AM

What a brilliant campaign to encourage the telling of visual stories. We're drowning in a sea of data, and its in the telling of a story that the meaning of that data comes to life. No matter how sophisticated the technology, and even the visual synthesis/output - we humans need a story.

Michael Margolis
Brand Storyteller

Mon 16 Feb 2009 at 4:32 PM

RE: Petals and daylight visualization. Here is a related graphic by Funnel Inc., using similar data to plot daylight from December 21 (winter solstice) 2008 through June 21 (summer solstice) 2009 in Wisconsin, USA. http://www.funnelinc.com/blog/daylight.html

Thu 19 Feb 2009 at 8:28 AM

love this site and, saw that this contest ended just as we finished up a visualization we just did; please take look, we'd love to hear your thoughts:


Tue 24 Feb 2009 at 3:33 AM

Charlene, I really like the idea of this graphic, but Jörgen is spot on in his critique. Once the strips are connected they describe areas not lengths. If I drew two circles and asked "how much longer is one than the other" I would expect some surprised looks. But other than that, I think it is an elegant way to present the data.

Tue 24 Feb 2009 at 9:56 AM
Matthew Webb

Matthew, I agree. Going into it, I was primarily concerned with the medium, that is the paper strips of varying lengths and the resulting shapes. Perhaps the volume/area is more of an artistic statement about how little or much sunlight it *feels* like there is in a given month, rather than a strict data visualization. This was my first attempt at a data visualization, and it's an interesting lesson to take forward!

Fri 10 Jul 2009 at 5:38 AM

lovely works. I hope to join,too. I love petals by charlene.
I really think about time management these days. When we use our time wisely, we can make our life beautiful. Though time flower withers we will have fruit according to the way we use our time. It will be lovely if you have many units of time flower.

Fri 30 Oct 2009 at 9:04 AM
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